Machu Picchu Inspired Terrarium

Bring the beauty of Peru to your home with a lush green terrarium inspired by the city of Machu Picchu.

| January 2019


Peru Machu Picchu Succulents

Sacred abandoned city in the Andes, Machu Picchu is built of brown and gray local stone, enriched with vegetation in intense, varied shades of green. This is the inspiration for the elements in this beautiful dry terrarium.


  • Difficulty -  2 out of 3
  • Water - 3 out of 3
  • Light - 3 out of 3
  • Container - Large


  • Glass jar (about 10-1⁄4 in/26 cm diameter, 10-1⁄4 in/26 cm high), without lid
  • Measuring cup
  • Plant mister or fresh sponge


This type of design can be done with most types of succulents or cactus, as long as their size allows.


  • 2 Portulacaria afra
  • 1 Aeonium arborium
  • 1 Sedum burrito
  • 1 Euphorbia ingens
  • 3-1⁄2 cups/800 ml red volcanic stone
  • 2-1⁄2 cups/600 ml planting mix (half potting soil for indoor plants, half sand)
  • 3 handfuls of fine gravel, black
  • 2 handfuls of medium gravel, gray
  • 10 handfuls of coarse crushed gravel, gray and white
  • 2 big granite pebbles
  • 5 pieces of driftwood
  • 5⁄8 cup/150 ml filtered water

Machu Picchu Step-By-Step

  1. Carefully clean the interior and exterior of the jar. Soak the base of the plants in filtered water for 5 minutes so that the root ball is well moistened. Measure (keep separate) 3-1⁄2 cups/800 ml red volcanic stone, and combine about 1-1⁄4 cups/300 ml potting soil and 11⁄4 cups/300 ml sand.
  2. Gently pour an even layer of the red volcanic stone into the bottom of the jar. Be careful not to damage the glass.
  3. rock-layer

  4. Pour the black and gray gravel and 2 handfuls of the coarse crushed gravel in layers around the inside edge of the jar.
  5. soil-layer-over-rocks

  6. Pour the planting mixture evenly over the volcanic stones and gravels, making a bed about 1-1⁄2 in/4 cm deep.
  7. Make 4 small wells in the soil deep enough for the roots of the plants.
  8. loosen-succulent-roots

  9. Gently loosen the roots. Place the plants in the wells and fill in the soil, pressing the plants in gently, then tamp down the soil around it.
  10. planting-succulents

  11. Water the soil evenly at the foot of the plants with filtered water, using a plant mister (or soak a sponge and gently squeeze it over the soil). Be careful not to get the base of the leaves wet, which could cause the plant to rot.
  12. Lay the rest of the coarse gray and white gravel on the soil, covering it entirely.
  13. succulents-in-soil-layer

  14. Add the granite pebbles and the driftwood.
  15. Place the terrarium in a bright place out of direct sunlight.

Cover courtesy of Chronicle Books

More from Terrarium

Reprinted with permission Terrarium by Anna Bauer and Noam Levy and published by Chronicle Books, 2018.

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